To Not Choose IS a Choice
To choose or not to choose, that is the question.
It’s true—not making a choice is a choice. It is a choice to not choose.
Every time we learn something new, we have a decision to make, and we can make it consciously or unconsciously. This is especially true when we learn something helpful.
We can decide to act on new information or decide to just let it be. Letting it be is a choice to not act. As William James put it: “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.”
Another thing to recognize about decisions and choices is that they take us toward or away from something. To learn some useful information and choose to act on it takes us toward a new result. To let it be is to move away from what we have learned, or to remain where we are.
If all of life is moving forward, into the future, how do we reconcile forward movement with indecisive stagnation? The answer is to not accept moving backward or the status quo, and then to determine what you can do and act on it.
The priority matrix discussed in the article titled “Revolutionize Your Thinking” helps you to consider whether something is worth doing. If a task lands in the top half of the matrix, it is worth considering.
Of course, your time-management decisions are subjective, but that subjectivity is necessary. After all, each life and each person’s goals are unique. The decision you make should be truly yours and not come from the pressure of someone else’s influence or control.
Let’s take another look at an example discussed in past articles: interruptions.
Controlling interruptions leads to producing better work and enhancing productivity while diminishing stress. To choose to control interruptions, you first must see it and the opportunity that exists, deliberate on it, and then make the choice to begin taking actions that lead to reaping greater fulfillment.
Remember what Seneca once said – “Luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity.” In other words, the more we prepare ourselves, the more opportunities we see. Many times, the only reason we see an opportunity is because we have chosen to do the preparation needed. Unless you are actively studying and learning, you might not even see or understand that an opportunity exists.
Changing business trends can represent an opportunity, but only if vendors notice and are prepared to respond by making new choices. An example of this is the changing economic climate of online shopping.
When retailers bury their heads in the sand, ignoring shopping trends, they’re unaware of growing opportunities to adjust their business practices to compete in the new market.
But when they see and think about the changing trends, they can act to adjust their business to take advantage of new market opportunities.
We can see examples of businesses who took each of these approaches in the past several years, and see where it got them. Businesses that incorporated online shopping are thriving. Those that didn’t see it coming, or didn’t respond in time, are now filing for bankruptcy.
There are always new ways to grow, but you have to look for them!
When you make a choice to act on something you’ve learned about, you move toward better preparing yourself to see even greater opportunity.
The principle of preparation applies to every area of life. Imagine if a person has done the preparation necessary to become a doctor. Because of their preparation and understanding of anatomy, they see things a normal person cannot. That’s how they can diagnose and treat an illness.
If a lawyer doesn’t know the ins and outs of the law, how could he or she represent you in court? If an accountant or engineer does not have understanding beyond basic math, what good would they be at their jobs?
The same is even true for parenting. Unless you spend time studying the subject, or at least talking to people with more experience than you have, how can you see the opportunities to become a better parent?
What if we see or learn of an opportunity, but can’t decide if it’s worth pursuing? Perhaps it’s a good choice for some people—but you are you, and I am me. We must always give ourselves permission to do what is in line with our values, our dreams and hopes, our desires, and to our fulfillment. Not every opportunity will fit the bill.
Finally, there can be instances in which making a good choice moves us away from something. Sometimes, we find ourselves in negative circumstances. We can make a choice to move away from toxic people, to not read or watch things that are inappropriate, or to not overdo something that might end up hurting us. My purpose here is not to explore these; however, we cannot neglect their reality in life.
You always make a choice, whether you act or not, and the choice is always yours. As Aristotle said: “For what is the best choice, for each individual is the highest it is possible for him to achieve.” The choice is yours!
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